AndyDev


iOS Developer at Buffer

July 11, 2009

It’s been a while…

Once again I fell back into the non-blogging blogger state that has plagued my blogs for the last few years. Although I have many excuses I could bore you with the ultimate one is that I just come up with the content. The content I do come up with isn’t of the standard i’d be willing to post on the site. So this Monday I will be consulting with Brum Bloggers to find out how I can get some new interesting ideas/content up on the site.

On another note (and another excuse) I have been rather busy on projects, old and new. I say new, one of them is actually nearly 5 years in the making. Hopefully i’ll have a few posts about that lot soon.

Just going back to the first note, how do you keep your blog fresh with new content and ideas? I don’t want to turn this site into a ‘personal life’ blog, which rules out alot of content that I could come up with.

April 24, 2009

New inBlogs Ad-Free Aggregator

Well it’s taken a while for me to notice I haven’t actually blogged about the new inBlogs being launched, so here goes…

Back in October I (once again) hired James McDonald to create a funky design for one of my projects. I wanted to update the old design and also add a few new features to the site. Some of which are still in development and will be making an appearance soon, these are details at the end of this blog post.

The old inBlogs was powered by e107 as well as a plugin I had developed previously to Aggregate blogs using SimplePie. When the old inBlogs was taken down it was barely usable, with slow loading times and daily issues with feeds that had been taken down etc.

The new inBlogs isn’t powered by a CMS but a bespoke system I developed that still uses SimplePie to collect posts and save them to a database. Overcoming problems such as keeping 120+ feeds up to date on the site we’re nice little challenges throughout the development. The same system that updates the feeds will soon detect problematic feeds that haunted the previous site.

The new inBlogs also employs a new method for tweeting, the site no longer relies on twitterfeed to tweet, but uses it’s own feed update system and short URLs. You can check out inBlogs’ twitter at either @inBlogs or @inBlogsLite if you want to see the top post since the last tweet every 3 hours. The URL shorterner also records how many times the link has been hit so a more in depth stats page can be developed at a later date.

A few things that will be added to the site soon…

  • The ability to search through the archive of posts.
  • PayPal integration for Friends of inBlogs (Currently free if you are clever enough to look into becoming a friend).
  • Possible User Admin area to manage feeds and referrals (Allows you to become a friend for free with a few referalls).
  • A statistic page, with top posts, most clicked blog etc…

A few people I want to thank for making the new inBlogs possible.

  • James McDonald for the wonderful design.
  • SimplePie for being a fantastic feed parsing, and ofcourse the SimplePie developers for creating it and providing wondeful support.
  • Everyone that uses inBlogs (via the site or via Twitter).
  • Luke Lanchester for helping me out with a few development bits.
  • Suleiman Leadbitter for the encouragement and answering questions.
  • Daniel Davies for answering questions in the office.
  • Emma Walker for coming up with the original idea and concept of inBlogs.
  • My girlfriend Cassie for just being her and for leaving me in Worthing (while she was at work) to work in Libraries and Coffee shops to get it done.
March 5, 2009

A Huge Thank You

As most of you are probably aware of by now, on Tuesday evening I was assaulted and had my phone stolen from me while on the bus home. As soon as I got in (a bit shaken up) I rang o2 and also posted a tweet about what had happened. I was ringing o2 to get my phone number blocked and my iPhone blocked (which apparently takes 24 hours max).

Within seconds people were replying to my tweet asking me if i’m ok. To be honest I was absolutely shocked at the amount of replies I got. Each one that came in cheered me up a bit more, it really did help.

Few minutes later I managed to interrupt my girlfriend from a meal she was having with a friend (Oooops). I told her all about what had happened, Cassie being the amazing person she is… listened and cheered me up. I let her get back to her meal, till she got home and spoke to me again.

Thank you to the following people…

My girlfriend Cassie Bishop (@ViciousVishnu), not sure who I would of spoken on the night if you weren’t there for me. Thank you!!!
Karen Strunks (@karenstrunks), you must have been sitting refreshing Twitter as you replied in an instant. Looking forward to helping you out with 4amproject, if I ever get chance. Thank you!!
Mark Ford (@fordie)
Julia Gilbert (@catnip)
@leunix
Shona McQuillan (@graphiquillan)
Lee Allen (@PhotosbyLee), thank you for the conversation that followed too. Making sure I was ok the following day and asking how I got on at the police station last night.
Simon Douglas (@sadbuttrue)
Stuart Maynard-Keene (@stuup)
James Timbrell (@jamestimbrell), thanks for checking in on me the day’s following. really appreciate it.
Matt Allen (@sdmix)
Timothy Griffin (@Timmargh)
Nicky Getgood (@getgood)
Michael Grimes (@citizensheep)
Andy Mabbett (@pigsonthewing)
Steve Heyes (@mrsteveheyes)
Nick Booth (@podnosh), thanks for making me laugh about having a backup tweeting device.
Gary Rae (@garyrae)
Luke L (@Dachande663)
Pete Ashton (@peteashton)
Anthony Herron (@anthonyherron)
Suleiman Leadbitter (@Sulcalibur)
Canna (@CannaIndy)
Brian Simpson (@gecal)

Once again… Thank you! You’re all amazing!

March 2, 2009

7 Things you may not know about me

Daniel Davies sent me this chain letter, which now means I have to tell you 7 things you may not know about me. Most of the below are really lame as I was struggling with things to write about, guess i’m not that interesting in that respect!

  • I actually got my job through Twitter back, way back in December 07 / January 08.
  • I have a weird fascination with anything to do with underground history, one example of this is closed stations on the London Underground, or tunnels in cities. I often find myself reading Wikipedia reading related pages. Strange huh? It only started recently.
  • When I was younger (Junior school) I had 2 poems published in a Solihull ‘Young writers?’ book. They are still on my Dad’s bookshelf, which one day will no doubt cause some embarrassment.
  • I have many thing’s I’d like to do or complete, just never seem to find time to sit down and do them.
  • I was obsessed with my Xbox 360, till I found my girlfriend Cassie. The 360 got used less and less till it died and has been dead since.
  • I’d love to be more artistic and creative, but it’s something that’s never been natural to me. As you can see from this sites design.
  • I am not a very sociable person. I won’t actively come over and talk to you, unless I know you or have spoken to you previously. I guess that’s why people say i’m “shy”, and find it hard to ‘mingle’ at events like Multipack and Brumbloggers.

Okay, I’ll name the following… Sukhi Dehal, James Timbrell… More people to follow.

February 26, 2009

Using invitations for inBlogs?

While I try to work on inBlogs (thanks to the lack of broadband and useless mobile broadband), I am starting to think about ways to promote it. Ways I can get more people interested and more blogs added to the aggregator quickly. I’ve seen many different ways of promoting websites and WebApps. Some successful and some not so successful, One app caught my eye recently…

I (like many others) have come across a service/app called Spotify, which allows you to listen to tracks as you wish. You can add songs to your ‘Queue’ and create and share playlists. Daniel Davies (fellow Web Developer at 383 Project Ltd.) came in the office and then mentioned it and through Spotify‘s invitation service it soon went around the office and Spotify gained 3 new sign up’s. This method of gaining new users was very successful in Spotify‘s case, now a few months on, you can download Spotify without an invite.

A little about the new inBlogs before I continue, previously people could simply submit a feed and it’ll get activated and that was it. If they wanted it removed they’d have to email me. This new version, as well as a brand new design thanks to Flockey, will have a feed management area. This area will allow blog owners to log in and add/edit/deactivate feeds as they wish. The old ‘Friend of inBlogs‘ system will be back with a twist though, people who refer other bloggers can gain the ‘Friend’ status. The ‘Friend’ can also be obtained through a payment/donation. That’s enough about the new inBlogs.

Now how would a similar system translate to an aggregator? Well to be honest, i’m not to sure it would. Would people send out the invites in the first place? It wouldn’t spread around Twitter and other such sites in the same way, people aren’t getting access to thousands of free songs. It’s just a basic aggregator. I guess the referall scheme is exactly the same as invitations, it will just reward you after.

At some stage I will need some people to test the new site. To go around break something, then report it to me to fix it. If you are interested in helping out let me know and i’ll add you to the list.

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